Congratulations to Dai-Yokozuna Hakuho on his unprecedented 45th yusho and 16th zensho-yusho, and to Yokozuna-in-waiting Terunofuji on another dominant tournament. Each man completed an improbable comeback to stand atop the sport. They should occupy the East and West Yokozuna positions, respectively, on the September rankings chart.
Ozeki Shodai (8-7) got a much-needed final-day win to avoid going kadoban. He will be the East Ozeki at Aki, with kadoban Takakeisho (1-2-12) on the West side.
Two Sekiwake slots are spoken for: one by the incumbent Mitakeumi (8-7) and the other by suspended and about to be demoted Ozeki Asanoyama. There is talk of a third Sekiwake position being created (presumably for Meisei), but I consider this unlikely. Instead, I expect shin-Komusubi Meisei (8-7) to move over to the East Komusubi rank, with the West slot occupied by demoted Sekiwake Takayasu (7-6-2). This would leave no san’yaku slots open for the well-performing upper maegashira.
If this scenario plays out, M2w Ichinojo (10-5) will have the most reason to complain, although we’ve seen two equally unlucky non-promotions in the past year: Daieisho in November and Wakatakakage in March. Like the latter, Ichinojo will probably have to settle for the top maegashira rank, where he’ll be joined on the West side by M2e Takanosho (8-7). The final-day bout between M5w Hoshoryu (10-5) and M3e Hokutofuji (8-7) will end up deciding only which side of the M2 rank the two will occupy.
With san’yaku shrinking by one slot, the joi would extend at least down to M4, though Asanoyama’s guaranteed absence would move it down to M5e, and it could extend further with other absences. These upper maegashira ranks will be filled out by M11w Kotonowaka (12-3), who’ll blow past his previous career high rank of M8, M6w Kiribayama (9-6), M10e Tamawashi (11-4), the falling Komusubi Wakatakakage (5-10), M1w Daieisho (5-10), and M7w Chiyoshoma (8-7).
Aside from Ichinojo, Takanosho, Hokutofuji, and Hoshoryu, the upper maegashira took a beating. Daieisho’s 5-10 record was matched by Okinoumi, and they were the best of the bunch, with Tobizaru and Chiyotairyu posting ugly 4-11 scores, Kotoeko recording an abysmal 2-13, and Endo pulling out for a final line of 1-4-10 (not coincidentally, Okinoumi, Tobizaru, Chiyotairyu and Kotoeko were the beneficiaries of extreme banzuke luck that saw them placed much higher on the July banzuke than their May performances warranted). Exactly how far these rikishi will drop—especially Endo and Kotoeko—is one of the major uncertainties in drawing up the Aki banzuke.
Then there’s the bottom of the banzuke. We have one guaranteed exchange between Makuuchi and Juryo, with M14e Daiamami (4-11) going down and J1e Yutakayama (10-5) taking his place. But what to do with the Juryo champion, J6w Mitoryu (12-3)? His record is clearly good enough for promotion, but whose place would he take? M17e Ichiyamamoto (8-7) removed himself from consideration by clinching his kachi-koshi on the final day. M15w Tokushoryu (7-8) should also be safe, albeit just barely, which leaves M16e Chiyonokuni (7-8), whose rank and record would normally ensure a stay, but Mitoryu’s case may be strong enough to force him down.
Let me know your thoughts in the comments. Any other banzuke matters you’d like to see me cover?